The Trouble With Brussels Sprouts

Maybe we are destined never to have Brussels sprouts. Last year we planted them too late, and there wasn't enough time for the sprouts to grow bigger than a pea. This year we planted them nice and early, but we’re having all kinds of other problems.

First, they grow very, very slowly. Here's one that was sown at the end of April:


That's all the bigger it is after almost two months. Part of that might be because the spot where we planted them is too shady:


It gets some sun later in the afternoon, but in the future, this patch is probably better for summer lettuces and cabbages, where the shade could help keep them from bolting. As you can see in the photo, there are lots of spots marked with compost circles where seedlings have either not come up, or have been eaten, or are just too tiny to see yet.

Here's a formerly nice-looking plant that has been chewed on:


This time, the culprit isn't cabbage loopers or our squirrel vandals. Not chipmunks or slugs either. This time we caught them red-handed:


Turns out that planting them close to the chicken coop wasn't a great idea either, because these guys really like them. They got into that bed for maybe a minute, and managed to completely gnaw down a couple and take some serious bites out of others.

We really don't need friendly fire on top of everything else.

So this coming weekend I will make one last sowing of Brussels sprouts to replace ones we've lost I that bed. I think I will also try to put some more in a sunnier spot. We will have room either in the section of the garlic bed that has been harvested, or we can pull out the rest of our lettuce and bolted spinach from last winter's cold frame area:


The bolted spinach (weirdly tall, between the lettuce in the foreground and the onions in the background) is surprisingly not bitter. If we end up using this area, we are going to be eating an awful lot of salad this week!

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